- Qualify on the First Call
- Establish Expectations
- Understand Multiple Viewpoints
- Make Information Sharing Easy
- Have Empathy, Be Patient
Sales is never simple, especially when multiple decision makers and budget holders are involved.
As a general rule, the larger the sales prospect, or more investment a client needs to make, the more budget holders, stakeholders, and decision makers will be involved. More people need to agree. It can seem like a whole committee needs to sign off.
For salespeople trying to get a deal closed, this can cause delays, frustration, and even confusion.
Whereas, smaller ticket sales, you should be able to get a simple yes or no in a matter of days or weeks. Bigger ticket sales can take months, especially if you’ve got to convince several people. In this article, we look at the ways in which you can sell into a group of multiple decision makers and budget holders.
How to Sell to Multiple Decision Makers: 5 Steps to Success
#1: Qualify on the First Call
Let’s work on the assumption that you’ve got an Enterprise-level prospect in the sales pipeline. A real big name. You’ve been pursuing this for a while now, just to get your foot in the door.
If you land this, it would be a Big Deal! Just think of the commission!
Thankfully, the first call goes well. They are interested, they want to know more. You tell your boss, he’s delighted. His boss is thrilled. So you send a proposal over, with case studies and a price. Now what?
Before doing that, and therefore on the call, you need to be as sure as possible that they are a viable lead. The last thing you want is to put a Big Deal in the sales pipeline, in the CRM, without qualifying them.
Qualifying a sales lead is essential, no matter the size of the deal, but especially at this level. Here is how you do that:
- Establish definite needs. Do they need this product/service?
- What problem(s) will it solve for them? This is crucial. As long as your product/service is delivering a clear solution for a problem or set of problems, then the need has been established early-on, which is a key part of the qualifying process.
- Do they have a budget, or could a budget be secured?
- How soon would they benefit from implementing this as a solution to the problem(s) they or you’ve been able to identify? A timescale of a few months can be expected in the case of large customers, but anything over 6 months could indicate they’re not serious.
- Who needs convincing? That is absolutely key, if you are going to engage with multiple decision makers and budget holders. You need to know who needs convincing, and also how to tailor arguments around what different stakeholders might want to hear (e.g. a CFO would want to know a reasonable ROI estimate, whereas end-users and managers need to understand the user and roll-out experience).
#2: Establish Expectations
Once you’ve qualified a sales lead, you need to establish expectations. Remember this is a two-way street. So you can say when you’ll get them information and complete follow-up actions, but you need something from them.
An understanding of who’s involved in the decision making process, and roughly how long it will take. When you know that, then you make it easier to say to your boss, and him to his boss, a realistic estimate of the process. This will also take the pressure off. That way, if it’s more likely to land next quarter instead of this one, you can put that in the CRM.
#3: Understand Multiple Viewpoints
When there are multiple decision makers and budget holders to interact with, and ultimately win over, you’ve got to understand multiple viewpoints.
Through conversations and demos, get a sense of the various needs that should be addressed. Depending on those who influence the decision, this could be a combination of financial, operational, practical, and if you want to advertise winning this client, their marketing/PR teams could get involved too.
Make sure you can tailor arguments to win over every decision maker and budget holder in the process. Include these in proposal, presentation and pitch documents, and re-iterate them in emails, conversations and demos. Reinforce what you say, multiple times, so that every stakeholder feels what they want is being understood.
#4: Make Information Sharing Easy
When dealing with multiple stakeholders, you need to keep organised.
Also, make it easy for them to access the information they need about this whenever they want. If possible, use email tracking software, or proposal document software, so you know when emails and proposals are being opened, shared, and read.
#5: Have Empathy, Be Patient
Providing nothing changes, and they maintain a clear interest in moving forward, then it should be worth it.
Not every sale comes through, of course. And things can change. But as long as you’ve established a clear need, and both parties are communicating well, then having empathy and patients is incredibly useful during a prolonged sales process with multiple decision makers.